Monday, November 30, 2009

Need a good laugh? Get Strangled!

Reviewed by Doris

I have this marvelously comfortable sofa. Next to it is a stack of books that call my name every time I pick up a dust cloth or get out the vacuum. Last Saturday night my husband was quietly watching a football game. I was communing with my sofa and a new book. The author was new to me, but the reviews said she is as funny as Janet Evanovich. I love Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books because they make me laugh out loud. I tuned out the football cheers and opened Laurie Moore’s Woman Strangled-- News At Ten (F MOO Main and Avoca). Move over, Evanovich, you are no longer the only author who makes me laugh out loud. In fact, I laughed out loud so much my husband moved to the other television so he could grumble in peace.

Aspen Wicklow just graduated from North Texas State with a degree in Radio and Television, and she needs a job badly. She has admitted her Alzheimer’s stricken father and her brain injured mother to a care center with the stipulation they must never know they are in the same home because they hate each other. She has $75 left to her name, and a former fiancĂ© who left her for a stripper because Aspen was boring. Fate takes her to WBFD-TV, the lowest rated local TV station in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, where she literally stumbles into the just-opened position of investigative reporter. Without a moment to think about what she has gotten herself into, Aspen plunges into the weird and wacky world of local television with the even more weird and wacky employees at WBFD. While developing a story about the overcrowding in Texas prisons, she meets Spike Granger who is the Dirty Harry/sheriff of Johnson County. Sheriff Granger has a major problem: a jail full of the criminals who should be on their way to the state prison at Huntsville, and a governor and state legislature who have put a ban on transferring prisoners. Granger’s jail is out of money to feed the crooks, and he is determined to make Texas do its duty. In an innovative and hilarious “Adopt a Con” plan, Spike and Aspen bring the plight of the sheriff to all of Texas and CNN. (It was my snickering, giggling, and full belly laughing during this part of the book that sent my husband to seek peace in another room.) I am firmly convinced that if real sheriffs had the guts and swagger of Spike Granger, our county jails would not be full of state prisoners awaiting beds in the state pens.

While the “Adopt a Con” plan makes for most of the laughter, there are several concurrent stories happening in Woman Strangled that will keep you reading. The characters are bigger than life, but, after all, the book does take place in Texas. My favorite is Rochelle the menopausal, conniving assistant to the station manager who has a secret and many ways of making people who cross her pay in spades. She ends up being Aspen’s back-up and mentor with some of the best lines since Stephanie Plum’s Grandma Mazur burned down the funeral home.

Laurie Moore served a police officer in the Dallas area for six years. She is a practicing attorney and a reserve deputy constable in Taggart County. She uses her law enforcement experience to shade her stories with a touch of believability. Mostly she just has a great time entertaining you with her characters and a glimpse into life as big as Texas. A must read only if you want to giggle out loud.
Woman Strangled-- News at Ten is the first book in a new romantic suspense series by Moore. Moore’s other books include The Lady Godiva Murder, her Constable series and her newest, Jury Rigged.

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